Study Guide

The Unbearable Lightness of Being Part 3, Chapter 10

By Milan Kundera

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Part 3, Chapter 10

  • Sabina ends up moving to Paris. She's melancholy, but it's hard to explain why. She left a man and he didn't come after her. Her melancholy is not that of weight, says the narrator, but of lightness.
  • She's always found joy in betrayals – but now what does she have left to betray? She is surrounded by emptiness. Was that her goal?
  • Our goals are always hidden from us, says the narrator. What was Sabina's goal – the unbearable lightness of being? If so, her departure from Geneva brought her closer to it.
  • Three years after she moved to Paris, Sabina gets a letter from Tomas's son in Prague informing her that Tomas and Tereza have died.
  • For the past few years, the letter explains, Tomas and Tereza have been living in a farm village. They died in a car accident when Tomas's pickup truck careened down a steep incline.
  • To Sabina, this means that "the last link to her past had been broken" (3.10.7).
  • Sabina decides to calm herself by walking in a cemetery. She drops a flower into a grave and notices how deep it is. The stone next to the grave makes her feel horrified. She later figures out that the weight of the stone on the grave is the problem. It keeps the dead where they are.
  • After her father died, Sabina spoke to him and felt as though he forgave her for her betrayal. He wouldn't have been able to do this if there had been a heavy stone over his grave.
  • She wonders about Tomas and Tereza's grave. She remembers her painting and how Tomas was half Don Juan and half Tristan. She feels that he died as Tristan.
  • She misses Franz, and remembers that he couldn't understand her love of cemeteries. She wishes she had been more patient with him. Maybe if they had stayed together longer, their respective dictionaries of words would have melded.
  • Sabina decides to leave Paris, in part because she doesn't want to die in a place where they cover your grave with a stone. "In the mind of a woman for whom no place is home the thought of an end to all flight is unbearable" (3.10.18).

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